Sir Peter Rigby’s IT group Specialist Computer Holdings has posted a turnover of nearly £2.5 billion despite a “challenging” marketplace.
The company, headquartered in Sparkhill, saw annual sales increase by 11 per cent to £2.48 billion in the year to March 31.
However, the firm, which sells and distributes computer systems, saw pre-tax profits fall to £14.5 million – down from £17.5 million on the year before – but predicted “outstanding” profits this year based on first half trading.
Sir Peter, whose £400 million fortune earns him 14th place on the Birmingham Post Rich List, is the man behind plans to rejuvenate Coventry Airport.
He established Specialist Computer Holdings (SCH) in 1975 with an investment of just £2,500 and it remains a family business.
Last year’s sales rise came after a 15.7 per cent increase in revenue in the firm’s UK division, managed by Sir Peter’s son James – which turned over more than £1 billion for the first time in the firm’s history.
In accounts published on Companies House, SCH said the bumper domestic sales had continued for the six months to September and that it “anticipated outstanding results” for the current year.
Sir Peter said, in his chairman’s statement, the firm had invested in cloud computing – where remote servers hosted on the internet are used to store and manage data.
He said: “In a challenging marketplace, the group has continued to grow which was delivered by staying true to our market positioning as partner of choice for optimising infrastructure and optimising cloud.
“The last three financial years have demonstrated a strong focus on cost and expense management alongside significant long term investment in infrastructure, skills and services – particularly cloud-based.”
SCH incurred a cost of £2.3 million from settling a long-standing dispute with the UK tax authorities during the financial year, and also ceased its operations in Belgium, at a cost of £600,000.
However, despite that the firm’s net debt had reduced by the year end by a total of 20 per cent, to £37.9 million.
The company spent £24.2 million on acquisitions across the year. Among the firms taken over were IT consultancy Kavanagh Systems and Technical Support Group.
“These acquisitions highlight the group’s agility in responding to fast growth opportunities to facilitate cost reduction and service improvement,” the group said.
SCH saw sales rise by 16 per cent in France, to £1.12 billion, and by 5.2 per cent in the Netherlands, to £346 million, and remained stable at £48.9 million in Spain.
The number of people employed by the group, which counts HM Revenue & Customs and British Airways among its customers, increased by more than 300 across the year, to 5,380.
The company paid a £12.5 million dividend to Rigby Family Holdings, its parent company which is 79 per cent owned by Sir Peter.
Among Sir Peter’s other business interests are three hotels, as part of his Eden hotel group, Mallory Court, the upmarket and exclusive Kings Hotel in Chipping Campden, and Buckland Tout-Saints in Kingsbridge, Devon.
His aviation group, Patriot Aerospace, bought Coventry Airport last year and despite the setback of not being awarded enterprise zone status, the firm is pressing on with plans to resume passenger flights.
It announced major progress last week with cargo flights re-starting after a deal was reached.